NOW THAT the Penticton Vs are home resting on their laurels as world hockey champions, we congratulate them on their victory and urge them to spare themselves the trouble of doing it again. We address a like message to their sponsors, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, and to the millions of grim Canadian patriots who joined in rooting the Vs home.
We do not see how the Vs themselves can be held accountable for this, but it’s still true that the tournament from which they emerged as winners created a set of attitudes and values that would have been more in keeping with a Mau Mau goat sacrifice than with a bona fide sporting event.
We have always thought it a dangerous thing to mix politics and religion. The recent hockey tournament managed to mix politics and religion and sport. The result was, to put it as mildly as possible, awful. Everyone knew from the start that the tournament was really a two-team contest between Canada and Russia. It was no surprise when the Communist press made more than the most of the fact that Canadians play hockey much rougher than Europeans do. Since Russia had won the championship with ease last year and expected to win it with ease again this year, it was also to be expected that the Communists would encourage their followers to believe a good Marxist team can lick a good capitalist team any day. This they did.
The tournament was played in West Germany. Most West Germans, with ample reason, are more violently anti-Communist than are most Canadians. With their long tradition of quasirmlitary and quasi-political physical culture movements, they are also far more susceptible to
the notion that a good set of muscles is proof of a pure heart and a sound ideology, and of course vice versa. West Germany got behind the Vs— vocally and in the pressand with a vengeance. The Penticton players suddenly found themselves cast in the role of a guest-star Siegfried. In this illusion they were sustained by exhortations from home—exhortations to defend the honor of Canada, to defend the cause of freedom, to strike a blow against tyranny and evil.
In the final game they walloped the Russians, 5 to 0. One official of the team, his voice choked with emotion, came on a trans-Atlantic radio network shortly afterward and attributed a good deal of the credit to God. Later another official of the team, after gloating over the Russians’ humiliating defeat, said thoughtfully: “This is a great thing for democracy.’’
If the future of democracy, or any part of it, depends on the skating ability of a dozen or so young stalwarts from B. C., then democracy is in a bad way indeed. If God spends any of His time fixing hockey games, then we had better start looking to some more responsible source for our salvation. But of course the recent contest between the Vs and the Russians had precisely nothing to do with God or democracy. It had nothing to do with the soundness or unsoundness of any set of political or spiritual values. But since it has led millions of normally sane human beings to hold the opposite belief, however momentarily; since in so doing it sorely increased international tensions, we believe Canada ought to pull out of the world hockey tournament and stay out until the world—ourselves included— has learned a good deal more about the difficult art of being sensible.
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